Personal Finance

7 pieces of personal finance advice from billionaires

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There’s a lot of financial advice out there, but not all of it's created equal. Some people assume you’re starting from a certain place; others expect a certain level of financial knowledge that not everyone has.

Our financial journeys all look different, but there’s one consistent rule of thumb: billionaires tend to have a good handle on how to hold onto or grow wealth. (Either that, or they were born rich or got really lucky).

When they're not blasting off into space or buying private islands, they sometimes make the type of shrewd financial choices that even those of us who don't own multiple houses can learn from. 

Without further ado, here are seven tips from billionaires sharing the keys to their financial success.

Warren Buffett

1. Good investments take time.

Warren Buffett is a self-made billionaire who has long praised the value of long-term investments. 

“Successful investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time,” Buffet says. “You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”  

We saw stocks like Gamestop and AMC run rampant at the start of 2021. While some people did make a lot of money, others ended up losing part of their investment because they were trying to make a quick buck. 

Perhaps the most impressive part of Buffett’s story is that he accumulated the majority of his wealth after he turned 50. You can too. It’s never too late to start — the important thing is to get going.

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Consider this: a $2,000 investment into an index fund that compounds monthly with a modest 8% annual return would give you $2,980 after five years, even if you never added to your initial investment. After 20 years, that same investment would be worth $9,856 — nearly five times as much. If you were regularly making contributions to the fund, your money would multiply even more. It doesn’t happen overnight, but giving your investments time to grow is always wise. 

Tom Monaghan

2. Reach your dreams with both short and longterm goals.

The founder of Domino’s Pizza, Tom Monaghan has made plenty of money. He’s pledged to donate half of his wealth to charity, helping people reach their dreams. He’s got plenty of dreams of his own, too, and doesn’t want a 100% success rate in reaching them.

“I don’t think I’ll ever achieve them all. I hope not. I don’t like having to think about a day when I might stop having new ones,” Monaghan says. 

Monaghan’s advice is a good reminder that we should never stop working toward our goals — and constantly create new ones. Different financial goals will come and go at various stages of our life.

Don’t be afraid to shoot for the moon, either. Complementing realistic goals with those ambitious ones keeps you motivated and working toward achieving something. That drive should never run out.

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If you want to buy a new home, you might set a long-term goal to have enough saved up in a year. But you can work toward that larger objective with shorter goals. Maybe you start tracking your spending, commit to eating out two fewer times every month or sell a collection of baseball cards.

Oprah Winfrey

3. Discover your passion.

Oprah reached billionaire status through finding what fuels her, betting on herself and building an unparalleled media empire. As Oprah says, “You become what you believe. You are where you are today in your life based on everything you have believed.”

This mindset can be applied not only to your job, but any side hustles, investments and hobbies. Maybe your passion is simply putting your money into a mutual fund and watching it passively grow — that’s okay, too. When you’re true to yourself and what you believe, good things will come.

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If you’re investing in the stock market, look for companies that align with your values. Don’t feel like you need to get involved in trendy topics like NFTs or Bitcoin just because certain people are pushing it.

John Paul DeJoria

4. Have an emergency fund.

In a perfect world, we’d never need to worry about bills, emergencies or other unexpected costs. In the world we live in, things happen, and you need to be ready.

John Paul DeJoria grew up in a poor immigrant household, and at one point was living out of his car and collecting bottles to care for himself and his toddler son. Even with those struggles, DeJoria made sure he had a financial cushion built up prior to launching his business ventures— Patrón Tequila and John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products. 

“Before investing or starting a company, make sure you have enough money saved for at least six months to pay bills or anything else that might come up financially,” DeJoria says.

 

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You never know when you’ll unexpectedly have to dip into your bank account to cover the costs of something major. Perhaps you have an unanticipated stay at the hospital, your car needs major repairs, or a hurricane damages some of your home. Whatever the reason, without a safety net, it can be hard to recover.

Carlos Slim Helú

5. Failure is okay.

Wayne Gretzky (or was it Michael Scott?) once said, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Even the greatest athletes expect to fail sometimes, and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú experienced setbacks too.

During a speech at the American University of Beirut, Slim — who owns holdings in hundreds of companies, including The New York Times, Saks Fifth Avenue and several Mexican companies through Grupo Carso — said, “When we face our problems, they disappear. So, learn from failure and let success be the silent incentive.”

Chances are you’ll encounter some stumbles along the way to your financial goals. That’s fine, as long as you take a lesson from them. 

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Did you spend more than your monthly budget because of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or did you buy new clothes you didn’t need? Learning from our spending and finances puts us in better positions to succeed.  

Chris Sacca

6. Embrace being a cheapskate.

Chris Sacca is a pioneer in startup investing. He was an early advocate for several huge companies, including Twitter, Instagram, Uber, and Kickstarter. As a result, he’s become a self-made billionaire.

Today, Sacca has carte blanche in his financial decisions, but it wasn’t always that way. And he offers some simple advice to college students: “Being a cheap bastard now means so much more freedom and choices later.”

That doesn’t mean you have to stop spending money entirely. Rather, think about areas where you’re paying more than you need to, or where you can cut back. 

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Do you have a subscription to a streaming service or website you don’t really use? Do you usually get a large coffee when a small one gives you the same boost? Are you buying something at the grocery store because it’s on sale, even if it wasn’t on your list? All those little changes can add up to big long-term savings.

Michael Bloomberg

7. Never stop learning.

You may not have met a Nobel Prize winner before, but Michael Bloomberg, the founder of Bloomberg L.P. and former New York City mayor, has interacted with plenty. He’s noticed they have one thing in common: “I’ve never met a Nobel Prize winner who didn’t think they had an awful lot more to learn and wasn’t studying every single day.”

Whether it’s looking into your spending habits or exploring new cash-back apps, financial literacy should be a big part of your overall learning. At the end of each day, reflect back on something you learned. It adds a sense of accomplishment and puts you in a good mood before bed, which is ideal for catching Zs—and waking up feeling refreshed and invigorated tomorrow.

The majority of us won’t become billionaires, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have comfortable financial lives. When you put in the time and energy, it leads to great results.

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Explore other resources for improving your financial literacy here. Continually learning and improving your financial situation can be a lifelong process .

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster and author of Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. His first car was a Buick Regal with an inconsistent radio but pretty good gas mileage.